Preterm birth per se, the neonatal environment, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and neurological damage are all causes of visual impairment and the impact of these factors is discussed in relation to the resultant ophthalmic deficits. Visual acuity impairments range from blindness, due to ROP or cortical visual impairment, which can be identified at an early age, to subtle deficits related to preterm birth only identified at a later age. Visual function deficits are not limited to visual acuity but can affect contrast sensitivity, field of vision and colour vision. Strabismus and refractive errors are also very common in children following perinatal adversity. Although more is now known about the types of deficits affecting these children, there is still a poor understanding of how these deficits impact on a child's functional ability. The impact of these ophthalmic deficits on the long term ophthalmic care required, and the role of perinatal factors, is discussed.